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Saudi killing ‘not as bad as other states doing it’

Riyadh ‘taking steps to improve protection of children,’ says UN despite deaths

THE Saudi-led invasion coalition in Yemen has made this year’s United Nations blacklist of child-killers — but on a list of lesser sinners.

The coalition’s inclusion on a list of countries which, though guilty of killing youngsters, are said to be taking steps “to improve the protection of children" was leaked to the Associated Press on Wednesday.

But Yemen’s Saba news agency reported yesterday that one child had been killed and three injured — along with two adults — in a coalition air strike on a civilian car in the Baqim district of northern Saada province.

The day before, two other civilians were killed in a coalition raid on a farm in the same district, which borders Saudi Arabia.

The US-backed coalition, which the UN said had killed or injured almost 700 Yemeni children in 2016, was first added to the list of children’s rights violators last year.

But it was swiftly removed by by then secretary-general Ban Ki Moon under intense pressure from Saudi Arabia.

Mr Ban’s successor Antonio Guterres divided this year’s list into two sections. One is of parties which recruit, use, kill, maim, rape, sexually abuse or abduct children in armed conflict or or attack schools and hospitals.

The other, which includes the Saudi-led coalition, lists parties "that have put in place measures during the reporting period to improve the protection of children."

The secretary-general's report did not specify what those measures were.

But he said: "In Yemen, the coalition's actions objectively led to the listing for the killing and maiming of children, with 683 child casualties attributed to this party, and as a result of being responsible for 38 verified incidents, for attacks on schools and hospitals during 2016."

Those accused of taking no action to protect children include the forces resisting the Saudi invasion — the Yemeni military and the Houthi militia.

Also accused are al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula — allegedly a Saudi proxy force directed against coalition ally the United Arab Emirates’ scheme to declare a breakaway state of South Yemen — and militias loyal to former president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s shadow government in the Saudi capital Riyadh, including the Salafists.


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